It’s that time again. August is nearly upon us, bearing little TV news and few new TV shows – as well as my annual pilgrimage to Greece.
When will I be back? Good question that I’ve asked myself and answered already during this week’s WHYBW?, if you want the full vague details, the general drift is:
The Daily News will be back on Monday, September 3
Everything else will be back at some point between August 16 and September 3, depending on my mood, whether I’ve been seized by Nereids, etc.
However, I may be posting the occasional bit of TV news or thoughts on the TMINE Facebook page, or tweeting (or more likely retweeting) away on Twitter. And if I spot anything televisual, I’ll bung it up on the TMINE Instagram feed.
Keep ’em peeled, anyway.
Meanwhile, keep chatting here with one another, reviewing shows you’ve seen yourselves and being an excellent to one another. Also, if you have some holiday reading suggestions, let me know.
If you’re going on vacation yourself, I hope you have a great time. See you all refreshed and ready for more TV in three to five weeks’ time!
Because then Iron Fist will be back for season two. Oh yes. Will I avoid watching season one this vacation for a fifth time in preparation? Stay tuned to find out…
Season one of Marvel’s Luke Cage was the first sign that not all of Netflix’s superhero shows were going to be top-notch. Season one of Marvel’s Daredevil was something of a classic, in terms of both ultraviolence and as an investigation of the morality of vigilanteism. Meanwhile, season 1 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was an unexpected deconstruction of the entire superhero genre and power.
However, Luke Cage was a bit meh. Perhaps it was too faithful to its 70s source material. Perhaps it was too much of an homage to blaxploitation movies. Perhaps it spent too long on its musical interludes. Perhaps it spent too little time on plotting, given how fractured the storyline was across the season. Perhaps it was too concerned with political arguments, with Cage the composite epitome of every black cultural stereotype being asked to solve the insoluble question of how a modern black man should act with honour – despite being bulletproof. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t as bad as season two of Daredevil or The Defenders, but it wasn’t great.
Given that there’d been no change in showrunner between seasons, I wasn’t expecting much of this second season of the show. Yet, actually, despite a somewhat downbeat ending, it’s the season I’ve enjoyed most since that first season of Jessica Jones. Apart from Iron Fist of course – screw you, haters.
Luke Cage uncaged
Season two of Luke Cage is a far jauntier, far more fun, far less self-conscious affair than the first season. Most of the same elements are there, but they fit together a lot better, everything’s more polished and it doesn’t feel quite so isolated from the larger Marvel universe.
Events continue more or less where season one left off, although this is clearly a post-Defenders story. Luke is, of course, out of prison and now everyone knows he’s a bulletproof superhero, making him the star of Harlem. Rappers are writing songs about him, he’s getting invited to show off his might against the NFL, Nike want to sponsor him – Luke Cage is big.
Meanwhile, Mariah (Alfre Woodward) is as big within the criminal underworld, thanks in part to the help of her lover-lieutenant ‘Shades’ (Theo Rossi). However, a new man is in New York from Jamaica calling himself ‘Bushmaster’ (Mustafa Shakir) and he has eyes on Harlem for himself. However, not only is his mission more personal than it first appears, he’s as strong and as bulletproof as Luke Cage. Is there room in town for the two of them?
Fortunately, Luke’s got help from the initially one-armed Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and, of course, the Immortal Iron Fist (Finn Jones). Screw you, haters.
Most science-fiction is an attempt to talk about the present. Stories that genuinely try to predict what the future will be like are far harder and inevitably of their time – we mock 50s sci-fi for imagining we’ll all have flying cars and rocket packs, but was 80s sci-fi any less fuelled by the nuclear concerns of its period?
So spare a thought for Altered Carbon, which does its level best to imagine a future in which bodies are completely replaceable, making death an optional rather than mandatory part of human existence. There’s some heavy thinking gone into it and it’s a show that really does make you philosophise.
Death becomes him
It’s the year 2384 and thanks to some fortuitous discoveries on an alien planet, human beings now have ‘stack technology’. Bodies are now ‘sleeves’ that you wear, while consciousness resides in a crystal disc or ‘stack’ that slots into the back of your neck. Take the disc out, put it in another sleeve and hey presto, you’re reincarnated. With cloning, cybernetics and other technologies, you can become fat or thin, black or white, man or woman, child, snake, robot or even someone completely different – it’s your choice, provided you have the cash for it, of course, otherwise you get nothing or maybe someone’s old hand-me-downs.
But if you do, you can become as old as Methuselah himself. When someone tries to kill one of these rich, all-powerful ‘Meths’ (James Purefoy), seemingly unaware he backs up his consciousness regularly, the reincarnated Purefoy decides he needs someone who can investigate his murder who is both exceptional and immune to all the norm societal pressures of the time.
So he ‘spins up’ Takeshi Kovacs (former Robocop Joel Kinnaman) in a new body, 250 years after he last died. Kovacs was an Envoy, a former space soldier capable of doing all manner of superhuman things, and now it’s up to him to solve Purefoy’s murder – assuming he wants to, given that he was once part of a rebellion that tried to stop the Meths getting the power that they now have.
Will Kovacs care enough to help in this new time and place? And if he does, what will he discover and who will try to stop him?
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And for a long time it is. Trouble is, there’s a moment where the whole show slams into a brick wall at 70mph, from which no one walks away alive. So much for stacks, hey?
Still, let’s talk about it after this shiny trailer and the jump. Spoilers ahoy, but hopefully nothing too serious.